Violoncello from Hymns for the Solemnization of Matrimony 1. O Father all creating
HYMNS FOR MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
Derived from the Greek word űμνος (hymnos), which means a song of praise defines a hymn as a religious song of praise and adoration: a prayer addressed to a deity or deities. A compliation of such songs are known as hymnals or hymnbooks. However, as the origins of the genre go back to ancient times where hymns were sung in honour of heroic or notable people such as the Egyptian Great Hymn to Aten, composed by Pharaoh Akhenaten: the Vedas, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hindiism; and the Psalms, a collection of songs from Judaism. Since the earliest times, Christians have sung psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and the Latin hymns of the early Christian church were sung without harmony or accompaniment, both in private devotations and in corporate worship developing the genre to encompass the entire offices of church rites and celebrations:(Matthew 26:30; 1 Cor. 14:26; Ephesiansians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13; cf. Revelation 5: 8-10; Revelation 14: 1-5). Hymnody evolved during the Middle Ages in the form of Gregorian chant and plainsong: in one of eight church modes monastic choirs sung them in the original Latin and many were later translated: a fine example of this being the 4th century Of the Father’s heart begotten sung to the 11th century plainsong Divinum Mysterium. These psalms and hymns were often accompanied by string instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute and were typically sung in unison. The development of the genre continued however when the Western Church introduced four-part vocal harmony: the norm adopted major and minor keys and congregations were led by the organ and choir. One synonym of the hymn in its English spelling is the chorale (Choral in German). Bach substituted many hymns and replaced them with chorale’s to restore the congregation’s role in church services: He composed 400 reharmonizations of existing chorale melodies and used some of them with memorable effect in his settings of the Passions. Because of the complex system of meters in a hymns profile which indicate the number of syllables for the lines in each stanza of a hymn, and furthermore the barring of these melodies is necessarily irregular, they will be found easy in performance if the time-value of a minim be kept in mind, so I have opted to set each hymn in this collection of marriage hymns as chorales. Their success in performance should be entrusted and undertaken to professional musicians who should lead the congregation. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that not only the metre of words and melody match, but also the stresses on the words in each line, so I have added time signatures to facilitate ease in the performance of these chorales.
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